GROUP IS BUSY IN THE BUSH

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Emily Smith emily.smith@cnbtimes.com.au

WITH the doc­u­ments for a 10-year lease on 3.3 hectares of wet­lands se­cured only last Thurs­day, Monto Land­care vol­un­teers got down to busi­ness on Fri­day, turn­ing the area into a draw­card for tourists and con­ser­va­tion­ists.

The first item on the agenda was erect­ing an old wind­mill, do­nated from Bonidoon Sta­tion, which will serve as a tourist dis­play and pump wa­ter over an area of wet­land back from the old Monto Scout Hall on Dal­ton St.

“Even­tu­ally we want this area to be a tourist precinct. They will be able to see how wind­mills work and see more than 4000 types of plants,” Land­care founder Glenn Baker said.

Mr Baker first got Land­care off the ground in 1989 when he said the whole area was a mess of weeds, grass and rub­bish.

But two years ago, a huge ef­fort went into re­plant­ing trees, cut­ting out di­ver­sion banks and do­ing up man­age­ment plans, and the area has done an ex­cel­lent job at re­gen­er­at­ing.

With help from a Queens­land Govern­ment Every­one’s En­vi­ron­ment grant, and Bur­nett Mary Re­gional Group and Bur­nett Catch­ment Care As­so­ci­a­tion flood re­cov­ery grants, more than $400,000 has gone to­wards help­ing the area re­cu­per­ate.

The lease ap­proval presents new op­por­tu­ni­ties for the group.

Rob and Edna Keiler have plans to cre­ate a set­tlers’ gar­den, with date palms, bougainvil­lea, pep­peri­nas, roses and other plants in­tro­duced to the area by the ear­li­est pi­o­neers.

“We have al­ready started go­ing around to prop­er­ties where these ear­li­est set­tlers lived and col­lect­ing seeds and cut­tings; we want to get a bougainvil­lea go­ing up the wind­mill,” Mrs Keiler said.

The group has also got its hands on the bear­ers from the old Hunt­ings Bridge, which it will use to con­struct a bridge over its back­yard bil­l­abong.

Walk­ing paths, gar­dens and a car park next to the high­way will also draw tourists into the precinct as soon as they pull up in town. And a hands-on cen­tre in the Scout Hall with bas­ket-weav­ing cour­ses, in­ter­ac­tive “kids’ days”, dis­plays of prob­lem weeds and a touch­screen com­puter all form part of Mr Baker’s plan to re­con­nect the com­mu­nity with the land and its his­tory.

PHOTO: EMILY SMITH

NAT­U­RAL WON­DER: A set­tlers’ gar­den de­vel­oped by Rob and Edna Keiler will be a tourist at­trac­tion in the fu­ture.

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